R.I.P. to the PRIVATE Citizen Part 2

June 12, 2013

By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher

There is no glory in being right about frightening predictions or even cynical assumptions involving our government.  There is just this continued eulogy for the Private Citizen.

Edward Snowden — among other whistleblowers — is confirming what was once just healthy distrust and speculation toward the U.S. Government.

If treason is giving aid or comfort to the enemy, and Snowden released information to the American people… what does that make us?

RIP Private Citizen Part 2 (1)This is the natural follow-up to the last article.  How can it not be?  No sooner do I finish the blog on our surveillance state, does Edward Snowden emerge as yet another NSA whistle-blower (with a CIA background to boot!). 

 He gave an exclusive interview with The Guardian UK on what he witnessed and why he decided to out the NSA’s inner workings on data mining.  While people with far greater understanding of all this are still trying to piece together all that PRISM is, it would appear that it is a certain method of analysis, as Rick Falkvinge explained on June 8th here.  (This is its own elaboration just on PRISM… short and OH SO worth it!)

It is painful to hear Snowden discuss how he anticipates the consequences of his noble actions (and yes, this IS noble!).  He fled to Hong Kong three weeks before he came out to Guardian.  When asked what he thought was going to happen to him, he replied simply, “Nothing good.”  He fears for his associations and loved ones.  He expects an investigation using the full measure of government’s resources and power, and anticipates they will say, “I have broken the Espionage Act and helped our enemies, but that can be used against anyone who points out how massive and invasive the system has become”.

In reality, if he wanted to do this for the money and sabotage the United States, you’d think he would’ve just sold that information rather than leak it to a major news outlet and make a run for it.  And much like protecting your OWN wealth is falsely characterized as theft, outing the unscrupulous acts of a powerful entity like the US government is falsely characterized as treason.

Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?

A: “That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [Senator Ron] Wyden and [Senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinized most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians.”

Behold the map below.  It reflects which countries are most monitored.  Not by their own governments, but by OURS!  You’ll be happy to know that Russia and Brazil aren’t nearly as important as Alaska or Kenya!

boundless heatmap PRISM
“We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world. We are not at war with these countries.”

Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?

A: “You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”

That’s disheartening, to say the very least.  I would say that Silk Road has done a pretty bang-up job on keeping secure… but how sad is it that we have to go on the virtual lamb to protect ourselves?  Always looking over our shoulders.  Always optimizing the security on our technology because, hey, you never know.  And, as I alluded to in the previous blog, we cannot simply boycott our use of technology and expect that to be a practical approach to such encroachments.

It would seem that we are waiting for heroes.  We are waiting for more Jullian Asanges and Bradley Mannings and Edward Snowdens.  We are waiting for those in the know to out our government to such an extent that some level of accountability by the public can be had.  It will take the effort of any and every single person who has access to information to expose the naked emperor for what he is!

Voting isn’t enough.  Branches of government aren’t enough.  The government is using unelected officials to socially engineer us, then we will likewise need to rely on unelected officials for any amount of transparency.

Snowden’s fear is understandable, and almost impossible for the average person to empathize with!  Consider what he KNOWS about how the government agencies work!  Consider what he KNOWS about how they like to “deal with” people who present a problem or call them out!  When asked about this, his response was, “they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action.”  That’s some sick sh!t!  How can anyone confront the treatment of Bradley Manning and feel anything other than of trepidation and nausea?  That was the barrel of the gun Snowden looked down when he made his choice.

I guess there is some glimmer of hope for Snowden in that he seems to have a few folks in his corner.  Senator Rand Paul wants to mount a full class-action Supreme Court hearing against the federal government’s spying and prying.  Someone from Anonymous has his back:


#IStandWithEdwardSnowden because denial that this country has turned into what it believes it’s fighting against is no longer an option #YAL

4:38 PM – 9 Jun 2013

And there are folks in Iceland who have heard of his possible intention to seek asylum in Iceland.  On the evening of June 9th, a member of the Icelandic parliament, Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Smari McCarthy, executive director of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, issued a statement of support for Snowden.  While Jonsdottir and McCarthy are members of the left-leaning Pirate Party, there are some warnings out there that the “conservative party” out there is not to be trusted.  Will he get the treatment Bobby Fischer received?  Or will Iceland honor its extradition treaty with the US?

From the standpoint of EVERY country, they should be defending this man as a global effort to protect themselves from US surveillance!  If countries came forward offering asylum in even their embassies for this man, it would perhaps encourage others to come forward with what they know.  If future whistleblowers have to accept a fate not much different than Bradley Manning, then our hope for accountability and transparency are all but doomed!  If the world is watching, and the world will circle the wagons to protect the whistleblower, then future whistleblowers are empowered while the US must tread very lightly in their approach to “deal with” these individuals… perhaps even revisit the transparency or necessity of their operations?  (Dare to dream, right?)

I’m going to leave two things for the reader to consider.  First is this quote:

“Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded.  And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude… They can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis… to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.”  ~ Edward Snowden

And second, is this video called “Plurality”.  It’s a 15 minute short film offering a glimpse into our future if we continue this trajectory of intrusion and surveillance.  Sometimes seeing how things may play out, helps to understand how dire the situation really is.

8 thoughts on “R.I.P. to the PRIVATE Citizen Part 2”

  1. Pingback: BoE’s Haldane: “… Biggest Bond Bubble In History” / Nikkei <6% / NSA WB Snowden: patriot 31%, traitor 23%, TV coma 46% | paulthepaperbear

  2. If our Government is going to insist on punishing this man We the people of the US Must insist on Punishment for
    Government and politions that lie to us ,,,,, there needs to be prison time for lying to the American People
    we Vote based on what they say .. If they cannot tell the truth then Voting is a joke.
    Its a crime that needs to be Punnished with time behind bars.

    1. The double standards are too many to count… But there is a part of me that believes the world is watching. It took the world to intervene and call out the US’ treatment of Bradley Manning as a violation of international law. And while I am by no means an advocate of a “one world” government, for Manning’s sake: any port in a storm!

  3. Comparing Snowden’s to Assange is an insult to Snowden. Assange directly stated that his purpose was to harm America. Snowden has stated his concern for his fellow Americans. Eurodouche with a vendetta vs. American holding true to principle at personal cost. No comparison.

    1. Was Assange’s stated purpose to harm Americans? Or was he referring to America as in the American Government? If it is the latter, I would say the same was true for Snowden. I think in the case of Manning, Assange and Snowden, the whole point was never to see destruction of innocent Americans… but rather to bring down the guilty elite. Assange has no beef with the average American citizen, from what I’ve read.

  4. I wish the best of luck to the brave Mr. Snowden. By stepping forward and sharing the truth with the world, he has made a most powerful enemy. We’re behind you E.S!

    1. Comments like these make me wish we had a “LIKE” button! But indeed: Godspeed, Snowden, wherever you are (as he has apparently “gone missing” from Hong Kong… Let’s hope it’s the kind of “missing” that is of his choosing and not the kind that involves Rendition and dank torture rooms courtesy of the US government).

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